Objective: Cyclophosphamide (CYC) is generally considered the most promising agent available today for systemic sclerosis (SSc)-related interstitial lung disease (ILD). However, the optimal dosage and length of treatment are still undetermined. Our objective was to evaluate the effect of an 18-month long protocol with intravenous (iv) CYC.
Methods: In a single-centre, prospective, observational study, 13 patients with SSc and active alveolitis were given 8 iv pulses in a 6-months period (CYC 750 mg + 6-methylprednisolone 125 mg every three weeks), as an induction therapy. Patients received maintenance therapy with further cycles at 4 (3 pulses), 6 (3 pulses) and 9 weeks (3 pulses) interval. Total CYC dosage was 12.75 g in an 18-month period. End-points were modifications of lung function test (LFT).
Results: During the first 6 months of treatment with CYC an increase in Forced Vital Capacity (FVC; p = 0.005) and in diffusion lung capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO; p = 0.10) was observed; during the maintenance therapy, there was a stabilization in FVC and a mild, non significant decline in DLCO. Treatment was well tolerated.
Conclusion: iv CYC can induce an initial improvement in LFT (particularly, in FVC) in the first six months, but no further improvement was observed during the maintenance phase.